What is Probation?

What is Probation?

Probation is a procedural option for a defendant as an alternative to being sent to jail or prison. Rather than sentence the person and ordering them to serve time, the judge may provide an opportunity for the defendant to demonstrate that they want to rehabilitate themselves. Probation results in the release of a defendant back into the community without the same level of freedom as a normal citizen.

Probation usually occurs at a sentencing hearing and may occur in either one of two instances: 1) the judge will find the defendant guilty of the crime but suspend the jail or prison sentence until they successfully complete probation; or 2) the defendant is given probation without a pre-determined sentence. Either way, once the defendant completes the conditions of probation, they will avoid prison for the remainder of their sentence. Do not confuse probation with parole. Parole is when a defendant is already in prison but will be released earlier than they were initially sentenced for.

Probation requires that the defendant be supervised, that they follow certain rules and guidelines, and they illustrate extreme well-mannered behavior. While it is probation that may be viewed as an alternative to time behind bars, probation does carry many requirements and rules.

Some of those specific requirements and/or rules include, but are not limited to:
– Mandatory reporting to the Division of Parole and Probation;
– Completion of a written report each month that must be true and correct in all respects;
– Permission to change your residence (applies to each move);
– Refraining from possessing, having access to, or having under your control any type of weapon;
– Permission before you leave the state;
– Seek and maintain legal employment;
– No consumption of controlled substances unless first prescribed by a licensed medical professional;
– Submit to a warrantless search at any time;
– No consumption of alcohol or drugs;
– Follow a daily curfew; and,
– Follow all the orders from the Division of Parole and Probation.

In addition to the conditions of probation, the Judge may have also sentenced someone to added conditions such as community service, financial restitution, anger management, mental health court, mandatory fines and fees, etc.

There are no constitutional protections for someone on probation as it relates to searches. The person is subject to a warrantless search of their person, property, place of residence, vehicle, or areas under one’s control. Warrantless searches also extend to electronic devices like cellular phones, computers, tablets, smart watches, and electronic surveillance data for monitoring of your location.

If anything goes unattended to, whether it be the failure to pay a nominal fee, failure to allow a search, or the failure to check in with a probation officer, the officer will issue a report to the Judge that includes the defendant’s probation violations. If the report is in fact issued, the defendant will be remanded for violating their probation.

Once the defendant is remanded back into custody, they will appear before their presiding Judge whom will ask them to explain why they violated their probation. Also, present at this hearing will be the prosecutor, who may want to contribute argument supporting the revocation of probation. It is here that your criminal defense attorney needs to advocate on your behalf. They should be attempting to convince your Judge why you deserve a second chance, rebut the arguments of the prosecutor, and/or argue why the case should have never been remanded back to the court in the first place. If successful through argument, the defendant will be provided another chance by the Judge to resume probation and the programs that are associated with it.

However, if the Judge does not believe the defendant is telling the truth, believes the prosecutor, and/or the defendant has multiple probation violations in the past, the Judge will more than likely revoke their probation and remand them into custody. It is at that time that the Judge may impose the remainder of the prison sentence on the defendant and probation will no longer be an option. This also deeply weakens an argument later for parole.
The average person charged with a crime is usually concerned about the quality of their legal representation when facing time behind bars, rightfully so. If you, or someone you care about is being charged with a crime, you have a right to an attorney. That right should always be exercised. Even those accused of lesser crimes like battery, simple assault, or larceny are likely to need legal representation from a licensed criminal defense attorney. Vegas West Attorneys ensures your rights are protected and that you are treated fairly in the process. The attorneys at Vegas West Attorneys have been defending people in Clark and Nye County courts for over a combined 20 years.

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